Disney Trip Cost, Breakdown & How I Paid For It

Disney Fund

If you missed last night’s announcement, go HERE to catch up!

We’ve gained many new readers since the last time we did this, so let me briefly explain. We are Disney addicts and go back to what we like to call our “homeland” as often as we can. The first thing we usually get when we tell someone we are going back is, “how can you afford that” – While I know not everyone shares our addiction love for Disney, there are just as many who do, but just don’t know how to pay for it. A few years ago, I made it my personal obsession goal to see if I could completely pay for our Disney trips with “free money” and I’ve accomplished that goal every year but one (I was only a couple hundred dollars short).

This is the first year I started a Disney/vacation savings account of $25 a week. I did this because I wanted to have a cushion in case we ever came up short. This isn’t free money, but it IS money that we never see and never miss, so it feels like free money. I grew up about an hour from Disney and my family is still there. Since we go to see them at least once a year, we combine that with a trip back to our homeland 😉

Here we go…

Disney Trip 2012 – Total Savings Goal = $2555.35

5-Night Package with Dining = $1585.35

  • 5 nights at Port Orleans Riverside Royal Rooms (used the current 20% room discount)
  • 1 Park ticket per person
  • “Plus Dining Plan” for 2 adults x 5 nights

We only need (1) one-day ticket because we have one day left on our hoppers from our previous trip. We’ll only have four full days since we’ll be arriving late on the 3rd and leaving VERY early on the 8th to catch the cruise. My hubby and I like to just relax and spend a lot of time at Downtown Disney, so we only plan on going into the parks twice.

Misc. Spending = $600

  • This is HIGH and I don’t think we’ll spend this, but I’d rather have too much than not enough. This includes cocktails, boat rentals, shopping, and misc. We don’t buy many souvenirs, but do have our favorite stores. Mine is Mickey’s Pantry at Downtown Disney…a kitchen store, of course 😉

Gas = $350

  • It takes 2.5 tanks of gas for us to get to my sisters (we’ve made this trip 20+ times). My daughter will need her car while working at Disney, so we’ll be driving two cars on the way down. Based on current gas prices, it will cost appx. $550 to fill up our cars a total of 8 times. I’ve already cashed out for $200 in FREE gas cards, so that leaves appx. $350 in fuel costs. One was for $50 from Speedway Rewards, and three were $50 Shell gift cards MyPoints.

Food/Drink While Traveling – Less than $20.00

  • I buy a case of water right before we leave..and sometimes two. It saves us a ton of money both while we travel and at Disney. A bottle of water at Disney can be as much as $2.50, which is $60 for 24 bottles! Compare that to less than $0.20/bottle when you buy it by the case. Since we’ll be on the dining plan at Disney, we’ll only have food costs while we’re traveling. We eat very light when we’re on the road. None of us like that yucky in-the-car-all-day feeling, so the last thing we want is a big, heavy meal. I bring a lot from home that I’ve picked up free or cheap with coupons. Tuna/cracker snack packs, healthy snacks, nuts, etc… – There are a couple of hotels we like to stop at, and both have free breakfast buffets (one even has free evening appetizers). I also cashed out for three FREE $10 Panera gift cards and one $25 Subway gift from MyPoints, so my goal is to spend less than $20.

Hotel While Traveling = Free

  • My hubby racks up tons of free Hilton mileage/hotel points since he travels so much, and we stay exclusively with Hilton brand hotels so we can take advantage of all the promotions. Currently, we have enough points for four free stays in any Hilton brand hotel. We also like Marriot because they have AWESOME military/government discounts.

How I Got There:

Vacation Fund = $850

  • I started a $25/week “vacation fund” the first week of January. It’s such a small amount that we never miss it, but it adds up! My advice is to not add this to your online banking. Seeing it every time you login to your account would be a constant reminder. Since I don’t, I literally forget about it. Some people take what they save on food/necessities each week and put it into their savings. Instead of doing that (which I think sounds like a pain in the you-know-what), I just decided on a number small enough that we wouldn’t miss it, but large enough to make a difference. Just $25 a week is $1300 a year!!

Change = $326.10

  • Do not underestimate the power of saving change. It may be an old tip, but it’s a tried and true method that works!! Here’s a tip that can make a HUGE difference. Never, ever, spend your change unless it’s pennies. For example, if my total is $1.25, I give $2.00 and get $0.75 back. If my total is $1.26, I will give $2.01 so I get $0.75 back. I will use my pennies to get more silver back, but never spend my silver. In one day out couponing, I can easily add $10 (or more) to my change jar. In years past, we’ve had as much as $700 towards our trip…from CHANGE! Since my hubby is gone and it’s just me adding to the change jar (and I hardly ever go anywhere), we’re down this year…

Yard Sale = $493.95 (June 15th)

  • I keep a stack of big totes in the corner of the garage and we add yard sale items to them year-round. When the time comes to have another, all we have to do is price everything and we’re ready to go. This year we had a LOT since we are moving. You can really make some serious cash with a yard sale, especially if you haven’t had one in a while. And if you advertise it, you’ll have a much better turnout. Several of our customers told us that they saw our ad in the newspaper (which only cost me $8).

Surveys $180.50 

Rebate Checks = $139.85

  • I don’t do a lot of rebates and I don’t buy something just to get the rebate. That said, IF I purchase something that happens to have one, I’ll send it in. I’m probably missing out on a lot of money, but just don’t have the time. I already have too much to keep up with…

Ebates = $246.30

  • I get a check every quarter, cash it and put the money in my Disney fund. Simply put, buy everything you can online. You get PAID for shopping and in most cases, get an awesome deal on top of it! More details HERE

Sunshine Rewards = $100 Disney Gift Card

  • Read more on Sunshine HERE

Total $2336.70 – I am $218.65 short ha…but I still have 6 weeks to make it 😉

Any gift cards I get go right into the cute little Disney Fund box my daughter made me (in the pic above). Any checks I receive get cashed and the money goes into the box. Right before our trip, I take it all to the bank and get large bills.

There will be several Disney posts coming in the next few weeks including a lot more on ways to save, and pay, for your trip! And if you’re a new fan, be sure you sign up for our mailing list – while we’re at Disney, we’ll be posting right from the parks!!

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  1. Tamie says

    What we did for our spending money and food money was we decided where we was going to eat. Most restaurants on Disney accepts Disney gift cards for payment of meals (including tip). So each paycheck we went and got a Disney gift card. We did the same thing for spending money. We used the Disney gift cards. I also went online and figured out where we was going to eat, then printed off their menus so we pretty much knew how much each meal was going to cost us (or close to it) when we got there

  2. Kristy says

    I started going in May 2011 and will be going on my 4th trip in October of this year. We drove for the first trip (from Wisconsin) and have flown since. Our last trip we flew 4 people for FREE thanks to opening a Southwest credit card and getting enough points to cover everyone’s flights. We had 18 ADR’s for an 8 day trip (used a Tables in Wonderland card) and stayed at Bonnet Creek (with a view of both Epcot’s & MK’s fireworks everynight)… our whole trip was less than $2500 for all 4 people.

    People are amazed when I tell them how often we’ve gone… it really can be affordable & if you REALLY want to go, you will find a way :)

  3. Courtney says

    Hope yall have fun!! Thanks for the tips! I have a question, for the sunshine rewards, how do you get the Disney gift card? I signed up and could only find the Disney store rewards?